The art or act of covering certain substances, as metal, wood, paper, leather, parchment, etc. with silver, so as to give them the appearance of that metal. Silver leaf is laid on much in the same way as gold leaf, for which see Gilding.
The method of silvering copper is as follows: take of tartar and common salt, each two drachms, half a drachm of alum, fifteen or twenty grains of silver, precipitated from nitric acid by copper; mix these well together, and with the mixture rub the surface of the copper, and it will have the appearance of silver; after the loose powder is brushed off, the surface may be polished with a piece of leather. Pins are silvered by boiling them with tin-filings and tartar. The buckles, studs, plates, etc. of harness are silvered by the following cheap and easy process: take half an ounce of silver that has been precipitated from aqua-fortis by copper; muriate of ammonia and common salt, of each two ounces, and one drachm of corrosive muriate of mercury; triturate these together, and form them into a paste with water. After boiling the substances to be silvered with tartar and alum, they are to be rubbed with the above preparation, then to be made red hot, and afterwards polished. This silvering may be effected by using the argentine precipitate above mentioned, with borax and mercury, and causing it to adhere by fusion.
To silver the dial-plates of clocks, the scales of barometers, thermometers, etc, and all other metallic plates of similar description, rub upon them a mixture of muriate of silver, tartar, and sea-salt, and afterwards wash off the saline matter with water. This silvering is not durable, but it may be improved by heating the article, and repeating the operation once or oftener, if it be thought necessary. The following amalgam is used for silvering the interior surface of hollow glass globes: fuse together two parts by weight of bismuth, one part of lead, and one of pure tin; when this is nearly cold, add four parts of mercury, and fuse the whole over a gentle heat. The glass globe being thoroughly clean, introduce into it a paper funnel, which reaches to the bottom, and pour in the liquid amalgam. At a proper temperature it will adhere to the glass, which, by being turned and shaken, will thus have its interior surface completely covered, and any remainder of the amalgam may be poured out when the operation is completed.